Averages: 10 two-year-old bulls, £2898 (-£362); three senior bulls, £5950 (+£1136); five aged bulls, £2362 (nc); seven yearling bulls, £630 (-£507); four senior heifers, £3832 (+£212); eight three-year-old heifers, £2480 (+£1108); 10 two-year-old heifers, £1491 (-£598); 15 yearling heifers, £1011.50 (+£381.50).

WITH almost a third more sold than last year and a top of 11,000gns, Highland cattle breeders would go home fairly happy from their annual spring sale in Oban.

Breed president, Gordon McConachie, said the society's council had worked hard to get numbers up for this sale, including asking breeders to bring them to the sale, rather than trading them at home.

It was a policy which certainly brought numbers up, but the ringside opinion was that the next step was to improve the quality of the animals forward, given the low clearance rate of the bull section which saw only 25 sold out of a catalogue of 58. "It was a highly selective sale," agreed Mr McConachie. "Anything which showed a bit of quality was well bid for and there may have been an element of German buyers stocking up prior to Brexit – whenever that happens!

"There were more than a dozen out of the 60-odd animals sold heading abroad and that's still a great thing for us to have. As custodians of the breed, our next task is to look to see if we can find some method of improving the quality of animals forward for the sale.

"We used to have bull inspections prior to sales and while I'm not saying that we should return to that again – that will be for our new council to decide – it maybe should not be discounted within a range of options we will be looking at," he said.

At its agm, the society agreed to put more focus on using sub-committees, including one for breed development and promotion. New council members elected were: Hilary Barker, Graeme Easton, Anne Chinner and Angus MacGillivray.

One of the oldest names in the society's herd book led the day with a price tag of 11,000gns. This was a black bull, Muran Erchie of Ardbhan, from Angus MacDonald, from North Uist.

The big money came for a second prize senior sired by the dun coloured sire, Gilleasbuig of Tiretigan – which had been bought for 1200gns eight years ago from Archie McArthur – and out of the hardy and ancient Muran family. That dam is by Lord Mosscastle of Old Greenlaw, which has become something of a breed legend as he's still going strong at 14 years old and has sired more than 500 calves out of the 160-cow Highland fold kept by Angus and his wife, Michelle, and their son, Fraser and his wife Carrianne.

The MacDonald team were just as please, though, with a great trade for their selection of heifers, which were led by sales of 3800gns and 3400gns.

The dearest of those was the dun coloured Annag Ormiclate Odhar of Ardbhan, a senior heifer by the Old Greenlaw bull and in-calf to Harris of Sorne. The buyer was James Foster, Kiltarlity, Beauly.

The next lot in, Mairead Bhreaga of Ardbhan, by the Tiretigan bull and in calf to the same service sire, made her price to Philip Stokoe, Balnagowan, Aboyne.

The day's second top was a 6500gns bid for the fourth prize two-year-old bull, Angie Beag of Miungairigh, which was being sold by Tom Nelson, Glengorm, Mull. Bred by his stockman, the late Angus MacColl, this one is by Craigowl 7 of Glamis Castle – a privately bought sire – and he was bought to work with the Applecross Trust's fold by herd manager, Mike Summers. Showing a bit more size and shape than the average, he hit the scales at 700kg and is out of Clara Beg 1 of Miungairigh.

On the other side of the ring, Mr Nelson was delighted with his 'bargain of the day' when he paid 3400gns to get Craig Finnie's Philip of Richmondhill, a red three-year-old by Charles of Richmondhill. Well shown by the Finnie 4 x 4 team throughout the summer, Philip was breed champion at the Black Isle and new Deer shows last summer.

While Michael Poland declined to sell his reserve male champion, Eoin Mhor 18 of Mottistone, at 3800gns, he did sell his five-year-old former stock bull, Donnachadh Ruadh Vom Sunderbeg – which had been bred by German breeder, Willi Bange – for 3500gns.

With 38 daughters retained, he was in danger of coming on to his own stock but achieved the top aged bull price when selling to the Lithgow family's Ormsary Estate, at Lochgilphead. Much shown in Germany before coming to Mottistone, his sire, Donald of Tordarroch, was also a former champion, winning the German National Show in 2013.

More success came for Mottistone when it led the female trade at 4200gns with the first prize senior heifer, Fern 2 of Mottistone, which was Appin and Lorn champion last summer. This red daughter of Eoin Mhor 8 of Mottistone – himself a former champion at the Glasgow International and the Great Yorkshire in 2012 – is off to the Nicholson family's successful award-winning tourist destination farm and shop at Cannon Hall Farm, in Yorkshire. She'll calve this year to the Vom Sunderburg bull.

Also calving down at Cannon Hall will be the 3200gns Una Dubh 10 of Craigowmill, which was second placed to her herd mate which was champion in the show. Forward from Ken and Eva Brown, Ledlanet, Kinross, this black heifer is by Eilean Dubh 2 of Craigowmill and goes back to a Rigg cow.

A few lots later, the Browns bettered that with 4000gns for their female leader, Capleadh 14 of Craigowmill, a three-year-old yellow daughter of the same sire as her herd mate. Taking her home was Roy Tylden-Wright, buying for his Ubhaidh fold, near Laggan.

Just after that, Bachy 44 of Woodneuk made 3800gns for Tom Thomson, from Barrhead, selling to Grant Hyslop for his Black Glen fold, at Crawfordjohn. This three-year-old red is bred from a show-winning line and is by Jock 12 of Woodneuk.

Ron Mclean, from Conon Bridge, got a great price for his two-year-old heifer, Isla 2 of Corntown, a black daughter of Josh of Earn, which goes back to a Cnoc-na-Sith bloodline on the dam's side. Paying 3600gns to get her was J Bruar, Aylesbury, made up for the 2400gns he got for his male champion, Brodie of Corntown, which is a son of Coinneach of Corntown going back to a Roisbheinn dam line.

There were five bulls at 3000gns. First off at that was the reserve two-year-old bull, Alexander of Goldenberry from West Kilbride's Alan Kennedy and brought out by new 'granny', Liz Shaw. This son of Alexander 4 of Mottistone was taken to that mark by Wolfgang Schuler, from Germany.

The McNaughton's Rannoch fold also hit that with the first prize Schiehallion of Rannoch, a two-year-old by Bein Gael of Earn – a bull which was male champion at the Highland in 2016. He heads to Ayrshire with Alastair McIntyre, Cedar Cottage, Enterkine.

Andy and Helen Kirkpatrick, Glengarnock, also headed back to Ayrshire with a new bull after paying 3000gns for a Glenkinglass bull brought out by Stuart MacKay for the Schuster family's operation at Glenstrae, near Dalmally. This one is by Stuart 2 of Lyntoun.

A black bull from Maureen MacArthur and John Ashton, from Strathpeffer, in Ross-shire, also got three grand, this time from Falk Pommer, from Germany. Their Seamus of Allanfearn is by Seamus Dubh of Tilbouries.

The final bull at that trade was an Ardbhan-bred six-year-old bull, Neili Kirkibost of Ardbhan, from Mull-based breeders, Bob and Shirley Strachan, Calgary. By Bille Dubh of Killochries, this Black sire was bought by Robbie Rawle, from North Devon.

* Champion young handler was Lewis Ralston (11), of the Edgerston fold, in Jedburgh, who had won through from the junior classes ahead of Jayden McLachlan (10) and Lara McLellan (10). Winner of the senior class was Jenny Francis (17), who beat off the challenge from Logan Ross (13) and Kerry MacGillivray (17).